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I am looking for an offline English–German bilingual dictionary which works on GNU/Linux.

I am currently aware of a couple such dictionaries, though both of them have significant problems:

  • elcombri Translator is supposedly an offline client for dictionaries which can be separately downloaded from dict.cc. However, the import function doesn't seem to work.
  • Ding provides an offline German–English dictionary and a search interface. However, it's really just a bare-bones front-end to grep; it doesn't provide much in the way of structured information like a traditional dictionary.

I would prefer a dictionary based on free software (and free content too, if possible)—perhaps there is an offline client for Wiktionary?

  • Did you take a look at the "classic solution" named StarDict? Works cross-platform (Windows, Linux), and their dictionaries are even supported on Android (and most likely other platforms as well, see Wikipedia). – Izzy May 20 '15 at 15:41
  • Perhaps an easier option would be a PDF dictionary? This is the closest replacement I have found for my paperback dictionary. – Nathan May 20 '15 at 15:51
  • Searching for headwords isn't very convenient in a PDF dictionary – much of the time it will be necessary to manually flip through pages just like a printed book. Still, provided a decent English–German dictionary actually exists somewhere as a PDF, it would be better than either of the two options mentioned in my question. – Psychonaut May 20 '15 at 15:56
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I'd recommend taking a look at StarDict, which is a cross-platform application having its dictionaries supported by even more applications on other platforms. Quoting from their homepage:

StarDict is a Cross-Platform and international dictionary Software. It has powerful features such as "Glob-style pattern matching", "Scan selection word," "Fuzzy query," etc. Stardict Version3.0 has developed a lot of new functions, such as Full-text translation, Net Dict.

Many dictionaries are available for offline use, so the mentioned "Net Dict" is an option you can use or ignore. I'm using their dictionaries on Android for years; my last "dictionary use" on Linux is a bit far in the past thanks to excellent online solutions I'm using there (Linguee, Leo).

Let's see how it matches your requirements:

  • Offline: Yes.
  • Bi-lingual: Depends on the dictionaries installed – but yes, possible.
  • Linux: Definitely. Additionally Microsoft Windows, FreeBSD, Maemo and Solaris (according to Wikipedia)

As the above is just the application, let me add some sources for the dictionaries themselves:

  • FreeDict offers a list of dictionaries. Pick the dictd links from there where no StarDict link exists, those files should be directly supported by StarDict as well. You might have to rename/symlink the .index files to .idx; not sure how to compensate for the missing .ifo files – but the next bullet-point should cover that.
  • This page has a collection of information on the dictionaries – including details on how to convert other dictionaries to StarDict format.
  • As you're on Linux: apt-cache search stardict should prove helpful (on Debian and derivates; use the corresponding tool on other distros). There are some dicts shipped with the repositories AFAIR, see e.g. here for Debian
  • This page holds links to many StarDict dictionaries, including German-English and English-German
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    The home page says "Thousands of free dictionaries can be found on the internet by Google," which is pretty vague. What specific English–German dictionaries work with this tool, and where can they be obtained? – Psychonaut May 20 '15 at 15:51
  • Indeed the search for those can be a bit time-consuming. I rawly remember having had a list of links to that somewhere, but currently cannot find it. Some sources are mentioned on the Wikipedia DICT article (DICT is the dictionary format here). I'd start looking at FreeDict, they have a list of dicts; the dictd format is directly supported by Stardict. – Izzy May 20 '15 at 16:03
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    20 minutes Google-Foo and answer updated accordingly with dictionary sources – there you go! – Izzy May 20 '15 at 16:26
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I'm a happy user of GoldenDict, which can work either offline or online.

These are some of the main features, straight from its website and related to your requirements:

  • Support of multiple dictionary file formats
  • Full Unicode case, diacritics, punctuation and whitespace folding. This means the ability to type in words without any accents, correct case, punctuation or spaces (e.g. typing 'Grussen' would yield 'grüßen' in German dictionaries)
  • Cross-platform: Linux/X11 and Windows + portable to others.
  • Free software: GNU GPLv3+ license

I use it on Ubuntu 14.04.2 and it should be already in the repositories.

Regarding the third-party dictionaries the program can work with, there's a whole page dedicated to them at Getting dictionaries for GoldenDict. Be wary of the possible copyright infringements for the non-free dictionaries, as clearly explained there.

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I work for a large, technical, German company with 30k+ employees.

Worldwide, we all use LingoPad, which is excellent.

The one slight drawback for you is that it is a Widows program. However, a Linux version is planned and, until then, it runs just fine under Wine (which is how I use it at home).

Obligatory screenshot:

enter image description here

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    I see nothing about a planned Linux version. The linked page simply states: "LingoPad is only available for Microsoft Windows." For Linux, they point to Ding, which saw its last version 2 years ago (so not sure if it's still maintained). – Izzy Oct 12 '18 at 9:52
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    I can only imagine that they have abandoned the plans for Linux and updated the website in the 3.5 years since I posted that answer. It did, at that time, run under Wine and I am glad to have been reminded of it :-) However, I will also be checking out all of your recommendations – Mawg Oct 12 '18 at 10:28
  • Not that my answer is any newer :) – Izzy Oct 12 '18 at 14:17

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